Guyana, Venezuela recommit to Good Offices process

...following meeting over continental shelf submission

Amid heightened rhetoric over Guyana’s submission of an application to extend its continental shelf, Georgetown and Caracas yesterday recommitted in Trinidad and Tobago to the UN Good Offices process and their respective facilitators are to meet to discuss the matter and then report back to their governments.

The meeting was convened following growing criticism in Venezuela about the Guyana application and the charge that  Georgetown had gone outside the Good Offices process, a claim that was flatly denied by the foreign ministry here which said that Caracas had been notified of the submission since May 2009.

In a joint statement last night following yesterday’s meeting, Guyana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett and  the Minister of External Relations of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Nicolás Maduro Moros  said that “In discussing Guyana’s submission to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, Guyana stated that it recognised the right of the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to make its views known to the Commission. The two Ministers agreed that their respective facilitators will discuss issues related to Guyana’s submission and report to their respective Governments.”

The statement said that both Ministers recognised that the delimitation of the maritime boundaries between their states remains an outstanding issue and agreed that such delimitation will require negotiations.

“Recognising that the controversy in relation to the 1899 Arbitral Award  about the frontier between Guyana and Venezuela still exists, the Ministers  reaffirmed their commitment to the Geneva Agreement and the Good Offices Process.  The Ministers recognised that this controversy is a legacy of colonialism and must be resolved.  The Ministers briefed the Personal Representative of the United Nations Secretary General, Prof. Norman Girvan, on their discussions.”

The ministers also expressed satisfaction with the excellent relations that have developed between their two countries and reiterated their commitment to maintaining that level of relations.

The ministers also acknowledged that relations are at a historically high level, characterized by respect, fraternity and solidarity, and concurred that Guyana and Venezuela develop cooperation projects in various areas and consolidate their integration schemes such as the Union of South American Nations – UNASUR – the oil supply deal, Petrocaribe and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States –CELAC-  “convinced that the bonds that unite them go beyond the legacy of division inherited from colonialism.”

The ministers also thanked the Government of Trinidad and Tobago for the excellent arrangements put in place to facilitate their meeting.

The controversy over the continental shelf submission had seen Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez issuing an unusually mild statement in which he said he had asked his foreign minister to “tread gingerly” in responding to Guyana’s submission of a claim to an extended continental shelf.